Like many chronic conditions, there’s a mental health aspect to tinnitus. It’s not just a matter of coping with the symptoms. It’s handling the symptoms continuously never knowing for certain if they will subside. Regrettably, for some people, tinnitus can cause depression.
According to a study carried out by the Stockholm Public Health Cohort (SPHC) and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, persistent tinnitus has been associated with an increase in suicide cases, particularly with women.
Tinnitus And Suicide, What’s The Connection?
In order to establish any kind of connection between suicide and tinnitus, researchers at the SPHC surveyed around 70,000 people (large sample sizes are necessary to produce dependable, scientific final results).
Here are some of the results:
- Tinnitus symptoms were reported by 22.5% of respondents.
- Suicide attempts occurred with 9% of women with significant tinnitus.
- Of the men with severe tinnitus, 5.5% had attempted suicide.
- A hearing professional diagnosed tinnitus in just 2.1% of participants.
It’s clear that women with tinnitus have a higher rate of suicide and researchers are trying to raise awareness for them. These findings also suggest that a large portion of people experiencing tinnitus don’t get a diagnosis or get professional help. Not only are there treatments for tinnitus, many people experience relief by wearing hearing aids.
Are These Universal Findings?
This research must be duplicated in other parts of the world, with different population sizes, and ruling out other variables before we can come to any broad generalizations. In the meantime, we need to take these findings seriously.
What’s The Underlying Meaning of This Research?
The study was inconclusive about why women had a higher suicide rate than men but that was certainly the result. There are a variety of possible explanations, of course, but there’s nothing inherent in the data that points towards any of those explanations as more or less likely.
Some things to take note of:
Not All Tinnitus is “Severe”
First and foremost, the vast majority of those who have noticed tinnitus do not have “severe” tinnitus. That doesn’t mean moderate or slight cases of tinnitus do not present their own challenges. But the suicide risk for women was significantly more pronounced for women who experienced “severe” tinnitus symptoms.
Most of The Respondents Weren’t Diagnosed
Most of the participants in this study who described moderate to severe symptoms didn’t get diagnosed and that is probably the next most shocking conclusion.
This is, possibly, the most important area of possibility and one of the best ways to decrease suicide or other health risks simultaneously. That’s because treatment for tinnitus can present many overall advantages:
- People who are treated for tinnitus can learn to better regulate their symptoms.
- Tinnitus is commonly a sign of hearing loss, which can (and should) be treated.
- Depression is frequently improved with tinnitus treatment.
Tinnitus And Hearing Impairment
It’s estimated that 90 percent of individuals who suffer from tinnitus have hearing impairment, and studies suggest that hearing aids help manage the symptoms of tinnitus. In fact, some hearing aids are made with extra features to help tinnitus symptoms. Schedule an appointment to learn if hearing aids might help you.